Stories Move Hearts and Minds

(originally published in the CCC Blog) by Dennis Chin, guest blogger

Stories have political capital. It's the act of sharing stories and identifying with those stories that builds a movement that is capable of pushing progressive policy. The We Are America stories project aims to lift the stories of immigrants into the national debate on immigration to build the political will to move just and humane immigration reform.

I recently read an article by George Lakoff about how Obama captivated a nation on his way to the Presidency.  He talks about how Obama framed progressive values as American values.  Here's the money quote:

"Progressive thought rests, first, on the value of empathy -- putting oneself in other people's shoes, seeing the world through their eyes, and therefore caring about them. The second principle is acting on that care, taking responsibility both for oneself and others, social as well as individual responsibility. The third is acting to make oneself, the country and the world better..."

The value of empathy is at the foundation of progressive politics.  Our job as organizers and activists is to find ways to activate empathy among folks in our everyday life.  Lakoff argues that facts, figures and rationalizations do little to sway folks, yet values and principles are central to engaging everyday people.

The way we communicate these values and principles is through storytelling.

This is why we launched the We Are America stories project.

we are america

The debate over whether and how to remake America’s immigration system has been driven by rhetoric—passionate or policy focused, heartfelt or hate-filled. Yet immigration reform, like any social change, is really about people. These people are our friends, family and neighbors.  They are a part of our social and economic fabric.

We need to fix our broken immigration system so that people like Montserrat won't have to fear that her mother will be deported.  Breaking up families is not an American value.  We need practical, workable solutions that will help thousands of families like Montserrat's.

Please visit the site and share Montserrat's story (and others) with friends and family that do not know about the issue.  And have a conversation with them about why immigration reform matters to you.

And check back for more stories.  Screen them for your organization.  E-mail them to your friends.